Mike Trout ends 2015 with yet another historic year of baseball under his belt. The hopes for a second MVP award seem to be lost to the lack of a playoff appearance by the Angels but Trout proved himself every bit deserving of the accolade of “Best Player in Baseball.”
In almost every way Trout improved his game over the previous year. His most remarkable stat was reaching the 40 home run mark for the first time in his career. He ended the year hitting 41 homeruns. His teammate Albert Pujols was just short of that with 40 home runs. They became only the second and third Angels to hit forty home runs in one season. Troy Glaus accomplished the feat twice and holds the team record with 47.
Trout led the majors in Slugging (.590), OPS [on base + slugging] (.991) and OPS+ (176) setting him apart as the best hitter in baseball. He improved his batting average by 12 points from .287 to .299 and most notably reduced his strikeout total by 26. Trout had led the league in strikeouts in 2014 and dropped to 9th in 2015. Trout’s stolen bases numbers declined to a career low despite making the same number of attempts as the previous year. His defensive play improved significantly going from -9 defensive runs saved to 5.
His final WAR for the year was worth 9.3 games, almost a half game ahead of presumed MVP Josh Donaldson (8.9). Despite Trout’s impressive performance being an improvement on his MVP season he was significantly behind Josh Donaldson in Runs Scored and RBI; stats highly dependent on the performance of teammates. The Angels were one of the worst hitting teams in the league while Donaldson’s Blue Jays were one of the best hitting teams. Put them on opposite teams and it’s not hard to imagine how their numbers would have looked in those categories.
Trout once again dominated the All Star Game and for the second year in a row and was named the All Star Game MVP. He won the award by hitting a lead off home run against Cy Young candidate Zack Greinke. He found a way to get on base 3 times and was responsible for 3 of the American League’s runs.
The Angels found themselves in sole possession of first place in the AL West after a dominating July in which Trout was named AL Player of the Month. But then Trout injured his wrist in center field on July 26th. After sitting out four games to heal, Trout returned to the field but something seemed to be left behind in his batting. Trout’s offensive output declined significantly and with it the Angels season. The Angels spiraled out of control in August and quickly dropped out of playoff contention. Trout’s bat seemed to make a return in September and with it the Angels chances. In the final two weeks of the season the Angels were able to pull off a 7 game winning streak that put them in contention for either the division title or a wild card spot. Sadly they lost three of their last 5 games and ended the year 3 games out of first place and 1 game out of the wild card game.
In the last home stand of the year Mike Trout made one of his most memorable plays of his career. With Seattle’s Jesus Montero batting, Trout tracked what appeared to be a certain 3 run home run back to the center field wall. With perfect execution and timing, Trout scaled the wall and reached as far back as he could and stole the blast. The play surprised everyone including Trout himself. The fans at Angel Stadium stopped the game to give Trout an extended ovation.
The roller coaster of 2015 comes to an end with the high of July, the memory of a crushing August and the hope of renewal in September. It also ends a season of off-the-field drama for the Angels with the ugly trade of Josh Hamilton to the Rangers and the sudden mid-season resignation of General Manager Jerry Dipoto (who found himself with the Seattle Mariners by the end of the season). The off season holds the prospects of a new General Manager improving the Angels left field situation, the expectancy of the maturation the young pitching staff (including the return of Tyler Skaggs) and the emergence of Kaleb Cowart at third and Carols Perez at catcher.